Last month, Israel’s Ministry of Health implemented rules that would make it easier for physicians to administer medical marijuana to their patients. In a statement, the ministry explained that these changes would improve availability of marijuana, decrease bureaucracy for patients who needed the drug and increase medical autonomy of the physicians.
The ministry also noted that emphasis was being placed on affording physicians more discretion to administer medical marijuana in their areas of expertise for a range of indications.
Bazelet Group’s Head of business development, Itai Rogel, stated in an email that prior to this change in policy, marijuana was given to patients as a last resort. This, of course, excluded patients in palliative care and those undergoing oncology treatment. He added that these changes mean that marijuana treatment is here to stay and is becoming more accepted as an additional, alternative mode of therapy. Bazelet Group is involved in the production of a large quantity and wide variety of medical marijuana products.
It is expected that more changes will be announced next month, including the following:
- permitting marijuana to be prescribed by specialist physicians working at public hospitals or a healthcare provider in the public sector
- the alignment of labeling and packaging with current pharma rules
- the transition to a prescription system
Experts revealed that January’s changes also eliminated the provision that allowed medical marijuana to be administered only as a last resort. This, they believe, could increase access to the drug.
For instance, individuals suffering from PTSD may now have quicker access to the drug. Prior to the change, some patients with moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder had to be diagnosed for no less than three years to become eligible for medical marijuana. This period has been reduced to 12 months.
Experts also believe that the changes announced in January, which went into effect immediately, will help drive growth in this industry. This can be seen in the recent data released by the Ministry of Health, which shows that in December 2023, about 2,800 new patients received medical cannabis licenses. The previous month, a total of 3,254 new patient licenses were also awarded.
A report by Prohibition Partners set the value of Israel’s medical marijuana market at about $340 million. This makes it one of the biggest nationally regulated medical cannabis markets globally. Prohibition Partners, a data and market intelligence company based in London, is focused on connecting the industry and offering data analytics, specialist information and digital commerce solutions.
The easing of restrictions in Israel is likely to be welcomed by cannabis companies such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF) as the changes enable accessibility to needed medical cannabis treatments.
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